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EA Sports’ NHL ’12 bits: First video preview, release date set at September 13

May 26, 2011, 8:00 AM EDT

overtheboards

With the 2011 Stanley Cup playoffs still in high gear, EA Sports is starting to allow some information about NHL ’12 to come out. Last week we discussed an intriguing screenshot that indicated that the Winter Classic would be playable in the game, but more information came through on Wednesday.

Before we delve deeper into some of the interesting information made available in that preview, it’s important to note the expected ship date is September 13. There was some concern that the NHL series would follow Madden’s example of shipping shortly before the beginning of the 2011-12 season, but it’s a relief to see that NHL ’12 will only come out about a week later than NHL ’11 did in 2010. (NHL ’11 released on September 7, 2010.)

Before we get into some of our analysis of the preview, check out the video EA Sports released on your own if you feel like it. (Video via Operation Sports.)

Our take

A lot of people will get excited about the possibility of checking their friends’ (or online foes) players through the glass or into the benches, but the gameplay changes are probably the most exciting thing about the video.

Most precisely, seeing that goalies might have a little more personality is heartening. Too often goalies are either a) impregnable digital forces or b) gullible, padded masses of Swiss cheese. I haven’t enjoyed fighting in hockey video games since the Sega Genesis days so the goalie fights aren’t a huge draw for me, but it’s amusing that the feature will be added nonetheless.

The fact that the game is paying more attention to some of the “little things” like screening goalies (and goalies fighting through those screens) should help improve the depth of an already deep game. If there’s one thing NHL ’11 lacked it was a certain sense of spontaneity, so hopefully that will be fixed a bit in NHL ’12.

Additional takes

IGN points out that the game is expected to have a presentation style that will ape the league’s TV presentations. The preview details stats that might go a little deeper than previous editions, which could be an exciting thing for dorks such as myself.

Operation Sports points to an EA Sports press release that details the game’s revamped “Be a Pro” mode as another possible area of improvement.

In the revamped Be a Pro mode, experience the pursuit of greatness and legendary moments in your playing career, shatter historic records and cement yourself in NHL history. Additionally, the better you play, the more ice time you’ll get where you can simulate to your next shift so you’re always on the ice as you play out your entire career in pursuit of the Stanley Cup.

***

Overall, it seems promising. EA Sports might not feel much competition nipping at its heels (more on that later), but the company is still making some tweaks to a winning formula. Hopefully the company will continue to prove that it won’t just crank out “annual roster updates” for its great hockey franchise.

If they follow through on some of the promises they made in that preview, then NHL ’12 could be another great hockey title.

(Screenshot via Operation Sports.)

  1. sknut - May 26, 2011 at 10:26 AM

    The NHL titles are the ones I get every year and every year they seem to impress a little more. I am glad screening the goalie is improved upon, it seems in ’11 its hard to do that consistently.

    • James O'Brien - May 26, 2011 at 11:11 AM

      It’ll be interesting to see how well it is implemented. I was worried about broken sticks going into NHL ’11, but they did a great job with it. Tough not to give them the benefit of the doubt going forward after that …

  2. govtminion - May 26, 2011 at 12:02 PM

    I give EA this much- while Madden is stagnant, only good for updating rosters per year at this point, NHL seems to add every year to what already is a pretty good game. I worried as well about broken sticks being overdone or pointless, and they got it pretty well actually- I have little doubt that these tweaks can only help for ’12. Looking forward to it greatly.

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